FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- Ryan D. McCarthy, the 33rd Under Secretary of the Army, visited the Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team at the Combined Arms Center Training Facility, National Simulation Center, Thursday, Feb. 22 at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. McCarthy's visit was a part of a larger trip, which included briefings from other U.S. Army Combined Arms Center organizations and initiatives.

McCarthy -- accompanied by Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center -- made the trip to discuss the work of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team, known as the STE/CFT. He learned about the team's needs, viewed demonstrations of the innovative capabilities it is developing with industry partners, and shared his insights based on the Army point of view and discussed how he can mitigate constraints the team may be experiencing.

The CFTs are a vital part of the Army's push toward modernization. A new modernization command -- currently named the Futures Command and tentatively scheduled to be stood up this summer -- would be made up of CFTs, which would be led by a director and report directly to McCarthy and the vice chief of staff of the Army. The CFTs' mission would be to improve the quality and speed of delivery of new materiel and capabilities to the Army.

The first demonstration McCarthy received was from the One World Terrain Team and its efforts to provide Army units with the ability to select and use any piece of global terrain for simulations-based training. This particular team isn't focused on just any one program -- according to McCarthy, "It's stepping back and looking at a common architecture, as opposed to particular issues with hardware (or) software."

The OWT effort also plans to provide units with the ability to create home station virtual terrain through the use of commercially available drones and software to map and virtualize a portion of their local training area specific to their needs and training objectives, and to share these with other units.

McCarthy also saw the virtual collective trainers that leverage software to allow reconfigurable replication of various vehicle platforms and weapons systems, which would be more efficient than current non-reconfigurable material mock-ups that are much more expensive to develop and sustain.

McCarthy was also interested in how the CAC-TIF Team has been experimenting with an innovative, streamlined requirements development process that involves Army partners, industry partners, Soldiers, and academia much earlier in the process. This early collaboration shaves years off of the requirements development and fielding process, and delivers better training capabilities into the hands of Soldiers and units at a dramatically lower cost. "How do we get better, and how do we get faster? We're trying to reduce the number of layers," McCarthy said.

The STE/CFT is focused on not only improving training, but in developing new processes that get the best training systems to the field as quickly as possible.

According to Major General Maria Gervais, director of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team, "We want our Soldiers to enter into a synthetic training environment that immerses them in diverse, complex operational environments that replicate where they will fight, who they will fight, [and] the terrain they will fight on. The STE will provide the warfighter the repetitions necessary to rapidly acquire and master the individual through BCT collective skills necessary to train [and] win in multi-domain battle."